Donald Trump signals openness to changes on Obamacare replacement

Donald Trump says he’s open to negotiation on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Obamacare, as conservative and moderate GOP lawmakers push changes to the proposal


A file photo of US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP
A file photo of US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

New York: President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he’s open to negotiation on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, as conservative and moderate GOP lawmakers push changes to the proposal.

Trump was asked by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson whether the legislation, called the American Health Care Act, was the best Republicans could do after seven years of campaigning against Obamacare. “I think we’re going to have negotiation,” Trump said.

Carlson pressed Trump on tax cuts in the bill that largely go to wealthy families, citing a Bloomberg News analysis that showed much of the benefit flowing to areas that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton. “Maybe this isn’t consistent with the message of the last election,” Carlson said.

“No. A lot of things aren’t consistent,” Trump responded. “But these are going to be negotiated. We’ve got to go to the Senate. We’re going to see what happens in the Senate.”

Trump also said he wants to make sure people are taken care of through the legislation, though he didn’t elaborate.

“If we’re not going to take care of the people, I’m not signing anything,” he said. “I’m not going to be doing it, just so you understand.”

Republican concerns

Both moderate and conservative Republicans have voiced concerns about the health-care bill, particularly after an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed it could lead to 24 million Americans going uninsured in 10 years. While moderates are seeking changes to help more people keep their health insurance, conservatives are calling for measures that could end the ACA more quickly, such as a quicker wind-down to the law’s expansion of Medicaid.

Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said Thursday on MSNBC that Ryan’s plan “doesn’t go far enough” and they are working on amendments. “I’m willing to invest the political capital to get it right.”

“We’re all collaborating to make sure we get this exactly right,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Wednesday evening. He said Trump’s administration is involved in working out the House bill.

Before the Fox News Channel interview, Trump touted the health bill in a political rally in Nashville, saying it “will get rid of Obamacare and make health care better for you and for your family.”

On Fox News, Trump reiterated his administration’s three-phase plan to overhaul the health-care system. First is the bill that’s currently up for debate, then regulatory changes, followed by another bill that Trump said he thinks could win Democratic support. That bill will push measures to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, Trump said.

The current system relies on middle-men known as pharmacy-benefit managers to negotiate drug prices on behalf of insurers and employers, as well as in the Medicare Part D drug-benefit program.

“We have a middle-man system, and we have a lot of bad systems,” Trump said. “We don’t have a good bidding system, and we’re going to get drug prices so far lower than they are now your head will spin,” Trump said.

“We are going to come up with something,” Trump later told reporters on board Air Force One. “We always do.” Bloomberg

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